By now most of us would have seen the video of the spitting guy, the cyclists, the many buses and mrt spats and many similar “behaviour”. Nowadays, it seems like every other day there are some public spats, violent acts and mostly captured in all its undignified glory on You Tube and Stomp.
I have my own theory especially after being on the receiving end of one of this freak last week.
Last week I was at the East Coast Park taking photographs of an event. Where I was, it was a long stretch of open ground. I was sitting on my little stool on the grass patch next to the bicycle and jogging path and taking photo of the runners running. Next to me was a man playing with his granddaughter. Later, a woman who I believe is the man’s daughter came by. She walked in front of me while I was shooting. I think they were having a picnic and she was transferring items from her car. She walked in front of me again on the way back to the car. This time, I let out a small sound of irritation. Then the guy and his granddaughter walked across my path to go to the car. I was getting rather pissed off. The area was so wide open, I am sure he could see I was taking photographs. But anyway, I let it go. Then he came back with his granddaughter and daughter and again they cut right in front of me. This time I looked up at the guy and stared at him. And he was staring at me back and he shot “What?”. I told him, “Look, can’t you see I am taking photos, must you keep walking in front of me?”. His reply shocked me. He said “I know. This is a public park. Why I cannot walk? And I deliberately walked in front of you because you ‘tsk’ at my daughter”. I told him back I knew it was a public park but surely he could see I was doing something and must he and his family need to walk right in front of me. That was when he started throwing all sort of vulgarities and right in front of his granddaughter!. I was stunned. I let go a few choice words of my own before realising that arguing with this type of idiots doesn’t work. So I left it at that and continued with my shooting.
Some experts said it is because of our hectic lifestyle and over crowding that causes stress and hence the need to let go steam. But that incident set me thinking. Is it really the over crowding? After all, it was a beautiful morning at East Coast Park, there were very few people. The guy with his family was there obviously for a picnic and a nice time and the stress level at that point should be pretty low.
I think it has more to do with the new society and “face”. In the old days, people were not so rich, live in kampungs and small houses. Not everybody was educated. Generally, the poor and the rich do not mix. Graciousness prevails because everybody was more concerned about eking out a living and has no time for petty quarrels. Also the less educated are not so assertive because they “know their place in society”. But now it is different. Everybody is now more affluent and more educated. With that comes a “I am smarter/richer than you attitude and hence the need to assert that position. Like the guy I met. He spoke very good English, obviously a sign of being educated. Drives a car. So he lost it when he felt that he/his family was being insulted when I made the “tsk” sound and he had to defend his family’s honour. My actions caused him to lose face so he had to do something. Just like the spitting guy. He lost face when he was told not to jump queue. Same with the cyclist. Here he is an upper class angmoh and probably quite high up in his career and some chinks dared to horn at him and another didn’t stop for him?
So at the end of the day, its all about face. Not so much over crowding. Losing face to some lower life form who dares to stand up to him/her. It will only get worse. Be prepared…..